Qualcomm enforces ban to halt some Apple iPhone sales in Germany

Apple was ordered to stop the sale, offer for sale and importation for sale of all infringing iPhones in Germany. (AFP)
Updated 04 January 2019

Qualcomm enforces ban to halt some Apple iPhone sales in Germany

  • Gravis, Germany’s biggest reseller of Apple products, said on Friday that it still had all Apple products on sale

MUNICH: US chipmaker Qualcomm took steps to enforce a court order banning the sale of some iPhone models in Germany following a patent dispute, a move that will likely see Apple Inc. pull those models from its German stores.
A spokesman for Gravis, Germany’s biggest reseller of Apple products which is owned by telecoms company Freenet, said on Friday that it still had all Apple products on sale, including the iPhone 7 and 8 models.
The German case is Qualcomm’s third major effort to secure a ban on Apple’s lucrative iPhones over patent infringement allegations after similar moves in the United States and China, and is part of a global patent spat between the two companies.
Qualcomm posted bonds of €1.34 billion ($1.5 billion) on Thursday, as required for the German court order to come into effect. The court found on Dec. 20 that Apple had infringed Qualcomm patents on power-saving technology used in smartphones.
Apple said in a statement after the verdict last month that it would pull iPhone 7 and 8 models from its own 15 retail stores in Germany during an appeal process once the order came into force. However, it also said it would continue to offer all of its phones at thousands of retail and carrier locations across Germany, a direct contradiction to Qualcomm’s interpretation of the order.
A spokeswoman for the Munich regional court told Reuters on Friday that Apple had appealed the court’s Dec. 20 ruling.
Apple, which had also said it planned to appeal the court decision, declined to comment on Qualcomm’s most recent move on Friday, only referring to its statement after the verdict.
According to the court order, Apple has to stop the sale, offer for sale and importation for sale of all infringing iPhones in Germany.
The court also ordered Apple to recall the affected iPhones from third-party resellers in Germany, according to a statement by Qualcomm.
Kai Ruting, a German lawyer not involved in the case, said the court order was directed at Apple entities rather than third parties.
“These third parties are still free to sell the (affected) iPhones, and they sell the majority of iPhones,” Ruting said, adding, “the question of a settlement will be driven by the US litigation and not the German case.”
Ruting said that Apple had strong arguments for the German court’s ruling to be reversed on appeal. If that happens, Qualcomm’s bond will be used to compensate Apple, he said.
Apple’s announced intention to pull iPhones from stores in Germany contrasts with how it has handled a court decision in China, where there was a much broader ban on iPhone sales after a court ruled the devices violated Qualcomm’s patents. Apple has continued to sell phones in China, saying it believed its phones were legal in the country.
Still, Apple also pushed a software update to address concerns over whether it was in compliance with Chinese courts.
Qualcomm has said those software updates were insufficient and that Apple must still withdraw its phones. Apple had filed a request for the Chinese court to reconsider its decision, but no outcome has been announced.


Germany mulls how to attract skilled labor from outside EU

Updated 16 December 2019

Germany mulls how to attract skilled labor from outside EU

  • The new legislation will take effect March 1
  • German official said shortage of skilled workers is currently biggest risk to business

BERLIN: Chancellor Angela Merkel is meeting top German business and union officials on Monday to discuss how to attract skilled workers from outside the European Union as the country tries to tackle a shortfall of qualified labor.
Legislation is due to take effect March 1 making it easier for non-EU nationals to get visas to work and seek jobs in Germany. Arrangements currently applied to university graduates are being expanded to immigrants with professional qualifications and German language knowledge.
“Many companies in Germany are urgently seeking skilled workers, even in times of a weaker economy,” Eric Schweitzer, the head of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry, told the Funke newspaper group. “For more than half of companies, the shortage of skilled workers is currently the biggest risk to business.”
He called for “unbureaucratic and effective implementation” of the new legislation.
Sectors including information technology and nursing have complained of a shortage of workers.
Monday’s meeting will discuss which countries German business wants to focus on “and we will cut out the bureaucratic hurdles,” Labor Minister Hubertus Heil told RBB Inforadio. He named as examples the process of recognizing professional qualifications, language ability and visa procedures.
Like many other European countries, Germany is trying to strike a balance between the needs of its labor market, an aging native population and concern about immigration.
Heil said that the aim isn’t to undercut German wages and “our problem at the moment is rather that we are not being overrun, that we are not getting qualified workers.”